In 2012 Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement sat down with some Kiwi children. They wanted to get back in touch with what the kids were about. Flight of the Conchords were creating a special song for health research charity Cure Kids; the children supplied them with lyrical ideas involving bowls, bubbles and a major overhaul of the banking system. A superstar team of Kiwi singers and rappers joined the Conchords in the studio. The chart-topping song's mix of deep concern and nonsensical rhyming celebrates and parodies previous charity efforts like ‘We are the World’.
The set has a back-drop curtain made out of milk bottle top foil; the band are wearing plastic rubbish sacks fashioned into tunics, and have painted faces. The props include a disco mirror ball, a toilet seat sculpture, a giant bug, and umbrellas. It's all slightly off-beam, but the band's performance is deadpan sweet. There’s the requisite Flying Nun film scratching, and some literal-but-amusing image and lyric matching. It all combines to make a DIY delight, an effortless two decades before Flight of the Conchords or Mighty Boosh.
Flight of the Conchords star and onetime Black Seeds musician Bret McKenzie clearly digs Wellington. In this video for solo project The Video Kid, he goes early morning skateboarding through the capital city. The downbeat groove of the folk-electronica number is a perfect match for a glorious 'on a good day' dawn, as the sun rises over Mt Matthews and the crew cruise down Wellington's Alexandra Road and along Mt Victoria's town belt. Later in the golden light they claim a deserted golden mile (Lambton Quay) for the skaters.
Martial arts, levitating heroes and mysterious asteroids all feature in this animated mini-epic. The superhero stylings meld well with this keyboard-driven Kora track, which has been sweetened with a range of sound effects to help its superheroes take flight. The band of heroes — far-flung brothers, not unlike Kora — join forces to face off against an approaching asteroid. Though various hands are in the mix, the look of the heroes was originated by local artists Damon and Kieran Oats, who created a special comic book to accompany the chart-topping Kora CD.
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra's version of Bonnie Tyler's wrenching 70s hit was the title track of their debut EP. In director Tim Capper's video, they manage to take the song to new levels of pathos with vocalist Andy Morley-Hall's quest for a slice of vegan apple and rhubarb tart. The location is a crowded Deluxe Cafe (where the ensemble emerged from informal Thursday morning sessions). Age Pryor contributes the solo and, amongst the group's massed ranks, there's a masked nod to absent member and Flight of the Conchord Bret McKenzie.
Made by off-duty Lord of the Rings crew and directed by James Barr, this video won The Knack Award at the 2001 Flying Fish Music Awards, and was a Handle the Jandal award-winner the same year. Shot in black and white, the clip is visually strong, but contains lots of shots of the band falling from buildings, so don’t watch it if you suffer from vertigo. And please don’t try this at home! Onetime band member Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords) turns up in the final stages, with an emergency bucket.
The video for BRF's second single contrasts images of youths in gas masks with This is New Zealand-style panoramic scenery. The song ominously describes a complacent society ignoring apocalyptic possibilities: it could be the theme song to The Quiet Earth. But like BRF's UK contemporaries the Cure and Joy Division, behind the brooding, melancholic music is a pop song with deceptive hooklines. The haunting melody emerges slowly from a funereal marching beat, while the chorus is almost ecstatic, with phased synthesised strings that seem to take flight.
Don’t mess with the Black Seeds! The band members run amok in a government office when they are wrongly accused of civil disobedience. Heads get photocopied, computers get beaten up, and chaos rules in this clip made by director James Barr. Look out for Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords fame, who was a member of the band at the time. 'Hey Son' is taken from the band's 2001 debut album Keep on Pushing.
Strawpeople Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney took themselves to Hong Kong (with guest vocalist Leza Corban) for this video. Corban's jazzy vocal and the chilled beats contrast with the hustle and bustle of the cityscape (still under the flight path of Kai Tak airport at the time). The trumpet is courtesy of Greg Johnson and the sampled voice is Richard Nixon talking to the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Co-written by Tierney and Casserly with Anthony Ioasa, Sweet Disorder won the 1995 APRA Silver Scroll for songwriting, plus the songwriting gong at the 1996 NZ Music Awards.